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Cato Institute Celebrates Ed Clark’s 90th Birthday

David Boaz of the Cato Institute wrote the following article celebrating the 90th birthday of 1980 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Ed Clark.  Clark, an attorney who turns 90 on May 4, received 1.06 percent of the popular vote in 1980; the highest percentage for a Libertarian presidential nominee until Gary Johnson received 3.28 percent in 2016.  1980 running mate, the late David Koch of the affluent Koch family, bankrolled Clark’s campaign.

Ed Clark, the 1980 Libertarian Party presidential nominee, turns 90 years old on May 4. Now that Rep. Justin Amash has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2020 nomination, I thought I’d offer some reminiscences about the earlier campaign.

In my misguided youth I was a teenage Young Democrat, a College Republican, and a young adult Libertarian Party activist, before I gave up politics for ideas and policy. In 1978, a few years out of college, I left my conservative job to become co‐​manager of Ed Clark’s campaign for Governor of California on the Libertarian ticket. (He was actually on the ballot as an independent because it was much easier to get ballot status that way.)

As I wrote in the Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, Clark was a corporate attorney in New York and Los Angeles. He opposed the Vietnam War while remaining a Republican, but when President Richard Nixon imposed wage and price controls in 1971, he joined the Libertarian Party and quickly became a member of its national committee and California State Chair. As one of the most successful and articulate professionals in the fledgling party, he was persuaded to run for governor in 1978.

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